The draft laws are aimed at improving the work of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation and human rights ombudspersons in the Russian regions.
The draft federal constitutional law broadens the rights of the Human Rights Commissioner as regards interaction with state agencies and officials responsible for ensuring the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms in Russian federal constituent entities. In order to increase the role and significance of human rights ombudspersons in Russian regions, the Human Rights Commissioner is given the right to provide them with organisational, legal, informational and other support within his competence. The Commissioner is also given the right to create a council of human rights commissioners, which is to include a representative from each federal district.
Also, the draft federal constitutional law states that the Human Rights Commissioner, as an individual holding a state office in the Russian Federation, cannot be a citizen of another nation, nor hold a residency permit or other document providing the right of permanent residency to a Russian Federation citizen in a foreign state.
The draft federal law amends the Federal Law On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation, specifying the Commissioner’s right to visit temporary housing centres for refugees, internally displaced persons or individuals receiving temporary asylum in the Russian Federation, as well as visiting special institutions. The Commissioner is also given the right to speak with individuals there alone, allowing representatives from the temporary housing centre or special institution to see but not hear them. A similar regulation for the Commissioner and human rights ombudspersons in Russia’s federal constituent entities is included in the Penal Code of the Russian Federation and the Russian Federation Law On Institutions and Agencies Executing Criminal Penalties in the Form of Imprisonment.
Amendments are also made to the Federal Law On General Principles of Organising Legislative (Representative) and Executive Bodies of State Power in the Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation. These amendments determine the status of human rights commissioners in Russian federal constituent entities and concern, in part, their appointment (election), requirements for candidacy, and early termination of powers. The amendments stipulate an option for vesting human rights commissioners in Russian federal constituent entities with the functions of commissioner for the rights of indigenous minorities and other official positions in charge of protecting the rights of citizens within the given Russian constituent entity.